What to Know About Education Funding in Biden’s Budget

The budget is an important opportunity for the administration to signal its priorities when it comes to education.
Blog Post
March 10, 2023

The following blog post breaks down President Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget request. It is broken down by the topic area that New America prioritizes in the education space, from infant to adult.

On Thursday, President Biden submitted to Congress his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024. As in past years, the budget is unlikely to be passed by lawmakers in anything close to its current form, especially with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Still, the specifics of the budget matter because it’s an opportunity for the administration to signal its priorities. “We see this as a values statement,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Here is what we know so far related to some of the topics we track at New America from early education to higher education to adult learning.

Early Education

President Biden’s budget request includes important funding increases for federal early care and education programs. While his ambitious Build Back Better plan that included a $390 billion investment in child care and pre-K ultimately did not become law, this budget is another example of the administration’s commitment to expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities, calling for a total of $600 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years for child care and pre-K. Specifically, the budget request includes $22.1 billion for existing early care and education programs, an increase of more than 10 percent from the 2023 enacted level. The request includes $9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, a nearly $1 billion increase. The budget also includes a $1.1 billion increase for Head Start, with over $500 million dedicated to increasing compensation for Head Start staff.

Additionally, the president’s proposal includes a federal-state partnership to provide free, high-quality pre-K in a variety of settings for all four-year-olds throughout the nation. Currently, only about 40 percent of the nation’s approximately four million four-year-olds have access to pre-K via state-funded programs, Head Start, or special education programs. Under the partnership, states would be given flexibility to expand pre-K to three-year-olds once all four-year-olds have access. Additionally, the budget includes $500 million for a pre-K demonstration program in the Department of Education for children eligible to attend Title I schools. Finally, the proposal calls for $360 million in funding for the Preschool Development Grants program, an increase of $45 million. These grants have been instrumental in enabling states to improve their ECE systems through strategies such as strengthening the transition between early childhood and the early elementary grades, increasing program operating and cost efficiencies, and ensuring that families are connected to any needed services. It's worth noting that the budget proposal calls for restoring the full Child Tax Credit that was previously enacted under the American Rescue Plan and was widely hailed as helping to cut child poverty in half.

Elementary & Secondary Education

The president’s budget request would increase the Department of Education budget by almost 14 percent. The budget request provides $20.5 billion for Title I schools, a $2.2 billion increase over 2023 enacted levels. These funds support 90 percent of school districts across the country, especially in the most marginalized communities. The funding levels requested in the president’s budget are reflective of the White House’s intention to address funding gaps for disproportionately disadvantaged students.

The president’s budget request provides funding for student mental health services and hiring of more school-based counselors. The $578 million investment would provide psychiatrists, counselors and social workers in schools, but would also support provision of services at the college and university levels.

The budget request also includes $368 million for Full Service Community Schools, which offer academic, social, health, and other services through coordination and partnerships with community organizations, an increase of $218 million above the 2023 enacted level. The budget request also includes $100 million for a grant program to support voluntary efforts by communities interested in developing and implementing strategies to promote racial and socioeconomic diversity in schools.

Students with Disabilities

In the 2020-2021 school year, there were 7.2 million public school students receiving special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Students with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the public school population and the president used this opportunity to start to make good on promises to meet federal obligations to fully fund the education of this community of learners. The budget request includes $16.8 billion in IDEA grants, an increase of $2.1 billion over 2023 enacted levels. The budget request also includes $932 million in IDEA Part C grants, which is an increase of $392 million above the 2023 enacted levels to support early intervention services provided to families of infants and toddlers from birth to age three.

English Learners/Multilingual Learners

President Biden’s budget proposes to allocate $1.2 billion to support the linguistic and academic development of students who are learning English in K–12 schools, often referred to as English learners (ELs)/Multilingual learners (MLLs). English learners and their families have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 both inside and outside the classroom and although this amount falls short of the $2 billion request from national and state EL education advocates, it would represent the largest appropriation for these students in history if approved.

The EL population in the U.S. has grown by 35 percent over the past 20 years, yet funding for these students has actually decreased by 24 percent when adjusted for inflation. And while the majority of EL education is funded by state and local dollars, supplemental Title III funds go a long way to support ELs and their families by boosting states’ and districts’ ability to provide ELs with extended learning time such as summer or after school programs; fund community/family/parent engagement programs for Title III parents/families beyond core offering; and hire counselors specifically trained to support the socio-emotional needs of these students, to name a few.


Among the many issues facing schools, educator shortages remain a priority for education stakeholders at all levels. To address these critical shortages across the country, the president’s budget request includes increases in funding to a number of important educator-focused grant programs. The proposed budget includes $93 million for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program, which funds the implementation of research-based practices to support the preparation and professional learning of teachers, principals, and other school leaders, a $13 million increase above the 2023 level. The Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program, which supports the preparation and retention of educators through approaches such as teacher residencies or Grow Your Own (GYO) programs, would see an increase of $62 million over the 2023 enacted level and receive $132 million in funding. The Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program, which supports the preparation of educators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), would receive $30 million, an increase of $15 million over the 2023 enacted level.

The president’s budget request includes a number of additional programs to support educators. The budget proposal funds the Teacher and School Leader Incentive program at $200 million, the School Leader Recruitment and Support program at $40 million,the Special Education Personnel Preparation at $250 million, the State Personnel Development grants at $53.6 million, and, for the first time ever, $10 million to the Graduate Fellowships to Prepare Faculty in High Need Areas at Colleges of Education.

Education Funding Equity

President Biden’s first budget request included a proposal for “Title I Equity Grants,” which were designed to provide a new incentive for more equitable funding policies at the state and local level. This proposal never came to fruition and is not included in this year’s budget request. However, the request would set aside $100 million in Title I funding to support states voluntarily conducting equity assessments of their school finance systems and school districts doing voluntary local resource equity reviews. These grants could provide an important push to states and localities to focus not just on the amount of money in the system, but also on whether school resources are allocated equitably.

Support for College & Career Transitions for Youth

Young adults need more affordable, reliable pathways out of high school into college and careers, as well support to navigate them. President Biden’s budget provides $200 million for the Career-Connected High Schools initiative, a competitive grant program that would support efforts to better align the last two years of high school and the first two years of higher education by expanding strategies like dual enrollment, work-based learning, and advising.

The budget also proposes a $43 million increase to the Perkins Basic State Grant program, which provides formula funding to states each year to support career and technical education. This represents a three percent increase over FY 2023, but still leaves the program funded at a level significantly lower than its inflation-adjusted level from two decades ago.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) budget requests an additional $15.7 million to support the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth program, which provides services and activities to prepare low income youth for academic and employment success. This would bring total WIOA Youth funding to $963 million, which DOL estimates would provide resources to serve more than 130,000 young adults in 2024.

Additionally, DOL’s request for increased apprenticeship funding, support for a youth-serving Climate Corps, and investment in multiple community college initiatives will provide additional resources to support youth and young adults as they prepare to transition to college and careers. More information on these initiatives is provided below in the Apprenticeship & Job Training section.

Higher Education

The president’s budget request for higher education focuses on evidence-based approaches to help low-income and underserved students access, afford, and complete college, acknowledging that the resources needed to do so often come from outside of the classroom.

For example, while the budget includes an increase to the maximum Pell Grant (to $8,215 for the 2024-2025 school year), it also provides $150 million in new funding for campus mental health strategy and services and $30 million in new funding to facilitate agencies working together to streamline access to benefits that support students’ basic needs. In addition, the request boosts funding by more than 25 percent (to $95 million) for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which helps student parents access child care on campus.

The budget also provides $2.7 billion, which would be a $620 million boost, to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Over the next several years—on top of its normal work of administering the FAFSA, managing the federal student loan system, and conducting oversight of its programs, institutions, and contractors—FSA is undertaking a suite of reforms to streamline financial aid and student loans for students and borrowers, including making student loan repayment more accessible and affordable. (Toward that goal, the request ensures that discharged student debt does not result in a tax bill for borrowers.)

In the budget request, the Biden administration continues its commitment to improving college access, success, and completion for underserved students. The request increases funding for federal TRIO Programs and GEAR UP as well as for programs that strengthen capacity at institutions that predominantly serve low-income students and students of color. The budget increases funding for these programs, including the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), to over $1.4 billion. In recent interviews, New America heard that SIP grantees—institutions with low educational expenses but a high share of low-income students—were able to use the grant funds to implement retention and completion strategies for the first time, and many were able to sustain these strategies beyond the grant period. The administration also increased spending on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions, including for research infrastructure.

The request includes $165 million for the Postsecondary Student Success Grant program, a competitive grant program created last year to help under-resourced institutions implement or expand evidence-based college retention and completion practices. It also includes additional funds for technical assistance for states and institutions of higher education for access, retention, and completion activities. The request could expand opportunities for more institutions to adopt and sustain proven programs such as the Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP) that have helped thousands of students graduate and could help build a more robust evidence base around supporting under-resourced students.

The budget calls to make community college tuition-free nationwide. This initiative would take the form of a new federal-state partnership: a first-dollar program that would allow students to use Pell grants and other sources of financial aid to help cover their costs beyond tuition. Straightforward free-tuition programs, particularly those that are first-dollar, strongly motivate people to attend college. If enacted, the proposal could help address community college enrollment declines, expand access to higher education, and supplement recent state efforts to make college affordable. In total, the budget proposes $90 billion over 10 years to make a mandatory grant program for states, territories, and tribes to make community college tuition-free for eligible students.

Additionally, the budget proposes $500 million to fund a new discretionary grant program to expand free high-quality, in-demand community college programs. The program, Accelerated Success: Free Community College, would provide grants to community colleges, or state systems of community colleges, to offer students tuition-free programs that are either fully articulated and provide for 100 percent, guaranteed credit transfer to state four-year institutions, or offer high-quality credit bearing career preparation that meet benchmarks for wages and employment. Doing so will help scale in-demand, free-tuition community college programs.

The Biden Administration’s efforts to make college affordable do not stop there. The budget also calls to provide mandatory funding for two years of subsidized tuition for students from families with less than $125,000 of annual income enrolled in a four-year Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Tribally Controlled College and University (TCCU) or Minority-Serving Institution (MSI). The budget proposes subsidizing tuition up to $4,500 per year for students at these institutions, and calls for $30 billion over ten years to fund this effort. These efforts seek to expand educational equity and economic mobility.

Apprenticeship & Job Training

The budget also calls for substantial investments to increase workforce development initiatives. First, the budget requests $11.5 billion for the Employment and Training Administration, a $1 billion increase from 2023. This includes $335 million for Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships–a $50 million increase from 2023–to support the expansion of registered apprenticeships into new fields, and to increase access to registered apprenticeships for women, people of color, and young people. In addition, the budget requests $20 million to establish the Civilian Climate Corps, which will fund paid work experiences, pre-apprenticeship programs, and registered apprenticeship programs for youth in industries and jobs related to climate resilience and mitigation.

President Biden’s budget also calls for $100 million, a $35 million increase from 2023, to increase community colleges’ capacity to work with both the public workforce development system and employers to establish high-quality job-training programs across the country. Additionally, the budget proposes $200 million to fund a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program to expand public-private partnerships to deliver high-quality job training focused on growing industries. These investments in community colleges and workforce partnerships could play a critical role in expanding access to good jobs generated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act to young people, women, and people of color.

Demonstrating his commitment to ensuring all jobs are high-quality, President Biden’s budget calls for $2.3 billion for the worker protection agencies, a more than $430 million increase from 2023, and $4 million to support the Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative. The increase for the worker protection agencies includes an additional $106 million more from 2023 for OSHA, specifically to ensure worker safety, and $81 million for the Wage and Hour division to combat wage theft and child labor. In doing so, the Biden administration not only calls for important investments in education that leads to jobs, but it also establishes the policies and protections necessary to ensure these jobs are high-quality and equitably accessible.

Finally, the budget requests a $109 million increase over the FY 2023 enacted level, for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Employment Service State Grants to expand employment services and training opportunities available to more dislocated workers, low-income adults, and disadvantaged youth, as well as veterans and military spouses.

Other Important Budget Items

In the Department of Agriculture’s budget, the President included a number of provisions that would directly impact children and families. First, the budget provides $7.1 billion for nutrition programs, including $6.3 billion to fully fund the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a program that nearly seven million people benefit from. In addition, the budget request includes $15 billion over 10 years to allow more states and schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, which would allow nine million more children to receive free school meals.

In addition to nutrition priorities, the Biden administration has used this budget request as another opportunity to get rural areas connected to high-speed internet. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2023 provided $2 billion to the USDA to connect Americans to the internet. The budget requests an additional $400 million for the ReConnect program, which provides grants and loans for broadband services in under-connected communities, especially rural and tribal areas.

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Related Topics
Federal Education Legislation & Budget Federal Education Budget Higher Education PreK–12 Education Birth Through Third Grade Learning